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View Full Version : new remote kill switch added to Intel CPU's



sdowney717
December 14th, 2010, 11:19 PM
http://www.infowars.com/remote-kill-switch-added-to-intels-newest-processor/

if stolen or someone wants your PC dead, then they can just disable it remotely.
I guess some kind of signal must go out, think it is network IP based or some other way?

Could this be considered the ultimate virus attack program? Say for a nation where you want to disable their capabilities.

julio_cortez
December 14th, 2010, 11:50 PM
I guess it would be something good if the owner (and the owner ONLY) was in charge of deciding whether the PC had to be locked or not (something like reporting the IMEI of a stolen phone to have it deactivated).
But putting this power in hands which are not the owner's ones, meh.. May really be dangerous.

sdowney717
December 15th, 2010, 12:00 AM
This must be done using registered serial numbers, tied to a user account, and the disabling program will be in the hands of the authorities.
If a PC with state or corporate secrets is stolen, then it could be turned off and renedered useless. BUT I think the authorities will also have the power to turn your's off if desired, so the potential for abuse is quite high.
I also think seeing how this could work, that the authorities will have a betteridea where your located and maybe even a better idea of what that PC is up to.
It could be used to aid in destroying botnets where people PC are unknowingly being used for nefarious purposes. One day your PC wont work, and you will have to take it in and get it 'fixed' by them. And a lot of questions on homeland security issues likely too.

Dr. C
December 15th, 2010, 12:02 AM
The fundamental question as to whether this is good or bad comes down to who is in ultimate control of the technology the owner of the computer (good) or someone else (bad). This is far from obvious from reading the Intel documentation.

WinterMadness
December 15th, 2010, 12:35 AM
i like the idea, but like all ideas there seems to be a way to exploit it.

op, you shouldnt get your information from infowars. its more sensationalistic than even the worst us cable news show

3Miro
December 15th, 2010, 12:40 AM
This must be done using registered serial numbers, tied to a user account, and the disabling program will be in the hands of the authorities.
If a PC with state or corporate secrets is stolen, then it could be turned off and renedered useless. BUT I think the authorities will also have the power to turn your's off if desired, so the potential for abuse is quite high.
I also think seeing how this could work, that the authorities will have a betteridea where your located and maybe even a better idea of what that PC is up to.
It could be used to aid in destroying botnets where people PC are unknowingly being used for nefarious purposes. One day your PC wont work, and you will have to take it in and get it 'fixed' by them. And a lot of questions on homeland security issues likely too.

If you want to protect personal data, encrypt the harddrive, that is where the data is, not the CPU. Even without a CPU, a computer is still worth money, it can be stolen and sold for parts. The only way this could work as anti-theft is if it allowed the police to track the thief (which it doesn't seem to do).

If I ever get such a CPU, the first thing I will do is to disable the 3G (I am sure it can be done).

handy
December 15th, 2010, 12:48 AM
It sounds like an invasion of personal freedom to me.

As far as a stolen computer is concerned, couldn't you just replace the CPU?

Dawei87
December 15th, 2010, 01:22 AM
If you want to protect personal data, encrypt the harddrive, that is where the data is, not the CPU. Even without a CPU, a computer is still worth money, it can be stolen and sold for parts. The only way this could work as anti-theft is if it allowed the police to track the thief (which it doesn't seem to do).

If I ever get such a CPU, the first thing I will do is to disable the 3G (I am sure it can be done).

+1. i don't really see the point in disabling the cpu, as a thief can still get to the contents of your hdd, or just replace the cpu and have a whole computer to themselves. this would definitely annoy a thief trying to resell the computer, but it wouldn't stop them at all. it could even hurt yourself in the off chance you do get the computer back but already disabled the cpu.

Ji Ruo
December 15th, 2010, 01:34 AM
I also don't understand why this would help security beyond theft for the computer itself. The hard drive is what needs to be protected for security of your information.

Another reason to buy AMD.

handy
December 15th, 2010, 01:58 AM
Perhaps the U.S. government has asked for this feature so that in the future they will be able to turn off the servers of those that host transparently reported news, such as the one that has been in the news lately & operationleakspin.org ?

sdowney717
December 15th, 2010, 02:27 AM
turning off those iranian machines running the nuclear enrichment plants
turning off the botnets
turning off the scammers
turning off the pedophiles
turning off rival nuclear missle systems running Intel PC's
etc, etc...

I am sure that the Chinese, Russians are concerned about this new feature.

Intel might not sell so many systems anymore.
I wonder if this turn off feature works with linux, or is OS independent?

Nothing like this would ever be done simply to help foil everyday robbers.
But national security threats they would definitely want to exploit this feature.

GabrielYYZ
December 15th, 2010, 02:30 AM
i used to be a pretty loyal intel supporter, but now i'm glad i bought my first AMD CPU this year and i guess i'll keep buying them, unless they do something like this.

this is a bad idea for the same reason that installing a bomb in your car as a theft deterrent is a bad idea. the potential for malfunction or unintended activation of such things far outweigh any benefits.

3Miro
December 15th, 2010, 02:34 AM
turning off those iranian machines running the nuclear enrichment plants
turning off the botnets
turning off the scammers
turning off the pedophiles
turning off rival nuclear missle systems running Intel PC's
etc, etc...

I am sure that the Chinese, Russians are concerned about this new feature.

Intel might not sell so many systems anymore.
I wonder if this turn off feature works with linux, or is OS independent?

Nothing like this would ever be done simply to help foil everyday robbers.
But national security threats they would definitely want to exploit this feature.

The feature is OS independent (you can change the HDD and it will not matter, it will not matter even if the system is turned off). However, the trick is to be at range of a 3G network. So Iran should be safe, although I don't think any government would be stupid enough to put this on their system. They can only doop tech illiterate victims (or CEO's).

if4124l
December 15th, 2010, 06:07 AM
Another reason to buy AMD.
There' also VIA processors: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/
I don't know what Intel is thinking. It is not a viable way to stop theft anyway. Maybe if they added some kind of disk erase function...

Austin25
December 15th, 2010, 06:19 AM
I also don't understand why this would help security beyond theft for the computer itself. The hard drive is what needs to be protected for security of your information.

Another reason to buy AMD.

+1
AMDs for me!

MisterGaribaldi
December 15th, 2010, 06:33 AM
It sounds more like some sick person's idea of a publicity stunt and hoax to me.

I remember them discussing a kill switch idea for cars a few years back (meaning it actually made the media discussion rounds) and this would be just about as silly and stupid an idea as that would be. Given the white and black hat communities which exist around the world, how long would it take for them to crack whatever "kill switch" system would be deployed?

The ramifications of that alone are so staggering that it would be both insane and irresponsible for any company to do such a thing with their products.

Decatf
December 15th, 2010, 06:51 AM
Shenanigans.

Won't be long before they want to shut down your computer for trying to download an MP3.

ctrlmd
December 15th, 2010, 07:00 AM
Shenanigans.

Won't be long before they want to shut down your computer for trying to download an MP3.
lol
____
i don't like this security feature at all

julio_cortez
December 15th, 2010, 08:39 AM
Won't be long before they want to shut down your computer for trying to download an MP3.The time will come, my friend. The time will come.

On a serious note, I can also accept that the government (or something else which isn't me) could be in charge of the de-activating signal, BUT:


The CPU must have a unique CPU-ID like, as I stated earlier, the IMEI of a phone.
This ID sould be known to the owner and the owner only, and by NO means it should be tied to the owner's name or to activity logs of any kind.
The box of the CPU must contain an "ID document" of the CPU which has the CPU-ID printed on. If the PC is stolen, the owner can go to the Police and ask it to be deactivated. Police should mandate the de-activation ONLY if the owner shows a valid "ID document". If the owner is silly enough to lose the ID document, the CPU cannot be de-activated or re-activated. End of the story.
By no means the CPU should "broadcast" its CPU-ID. The CPU must only be able to receive signals (either the de-activation one or the re-activation one, which MUST exist).

These should protect the owners against "illegitimate" de-activating requests I guess (though these ideas may have to be refined).
Of course, these ideas don't take into account the case in which the CPU is stolen, then de-activated, then replaced with an active one by the thief.

I'm confident the CPU-lock is something smarter than what told in that article (which, to me, looks like the "Trusted Computing FUD" which used to be around in the first half of the 2000s).

By the way (edit): Infowars "forgot" to say that the ultimate choice (if the CPU could or couldn't be de-activated) is in the hands of the user (http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/News.asp?id=60539&cid=6). -_-'

MisterGaribaldi
December 15th, 2010, 09:01 AM
The time will come, my friend. The time will come.

On a serious note, I can also accept that the government (or something else which isn't me) could be in charge of the de-activating signal, BUT:


The CPU must have a unique CPU-ID like, as I stated earlier, the IMEI of a phone.
This ID sould be known to the owner and the owner only, and by NO means it should be tied to the owner's name or to activity logs of any kind.
The box of the CPU must contain an "ID document" of the CPU which has the CPU-ID printed on. If the PC is stolen, the owner can go to the Police and ask it to be deactivated. Police should mandate the de-activation ONLY if the owner shows a valid "ID document". If the owner is silly enough to lose the ID document, the CPU cannot be de-activated or re-activated. End of the story.
By no means the CPU should "broadcast" its CPU-ID. The CPU must only be able to receive signals (either the de-activation one or the re-activation one, which MUST exist).

These should protect the owners against "illegitimate" de-activating requests I guess (though these ideas may have to be refined).
Of course, these ideas don't take into account the case in which the CPU is stolen, then de-activated, then replaced with an active one by the thief.

I'm confident the CPU-lock is something smarter than what told in that article (which, to me, looks like the "Trusted Computing FUD" which used to be around in the first half of the 2000s).

The fundamental problem with your theory, Julio, is this: the "bad guys" will have these things in their own possession with all the time in the world to learn how to access them and make them shut down. Once that happens, it won't matter what legal barriers these things sit behind as it's only a technological means we're talking about.

KingYaba
December 15th, 2010, 09:18 AM
What a terrible concept.

3Miro
December 15th, 2010, 09:23 AM
I remember them discussing a kill switch idea for cars a few years back (meaning it actually made the media discussion rounds) and this would be just about as silly and stupid an idea as that would be. Given the white and black hat communities which exist around the world, how long would it take for them to crack whatever "kill switch" system would be deployed?


I have seen TV adds for something like this on a car. Someone steals a car, then the police (working with the car company) uses the system to track down the thief and then shutdown the engine so that he cannot run away. No damage was done to the car, the engine lock was temporary. This system was part of the same system that the car can use to call for help if you are in an accident and unconscious.

It kind of makes sense for a car, because people are more aware of the possible abuses and the car company would lose a ton of money, if this thing gets abused. It also leads to the thief being arrested. In a computer scenario, it will not stop or prevent theft and it will not protect anyone's personal stuff. It only gives someone else the ability to mess up your machine.

julio_cortez
December 15th, 2010, 09:26 AM
@MisterGaribaldi (people have posted while I was writing this)

Well.. What you say happened in the past, happens right now and will of course keep on happening in the future.
I also find this is an overkill if it's designed to protect people from thieves, but I'm not really concerned about the government being able to shut down "unwanted" PCs (the article I linked talks about i3, i5 and i7 CPUs so I guess it's aimed at "home users" anyway). They most probably have something more important to do than track down and disconnect people reading Wikileaks.

For what regards remotely shutting down servers and such, I'll wait until a Xeon with the same feature will be on the market (and I don't think it will ever be, if the "de-activate" switch is just to prevent stealers: would you imagine me dressed as Diabolik, exiting a co-location with a server on the shoulders? Wouldn't it generate just a little suspect and shouldn't I be stopped by the co-lo personnel before they had to de-activate the server remotely? :P).


Of course your ultimate point still stands and I can't do much about it: I still trust the people in charge not to do anything bad, but it's not said that nasty people won't start de-activating CPUs maybe asking for a ransom (there was malware that used to do that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransomware_%28malware%29) with data on disks if I don't go wrong some time ago). But nasty people will always exist, I'm afraid.

KingYaba
December 15th, 2010, 09:26 AM
it will not stop or prevent theft and it will not protect anyone's personal stuff. .

Well, I hope everyone is encrypting their hard drives.

MisterGaribaldi
December 15th, 2010, 05:04 PM
It kind of makes sense for a car, because people are more aware of the possible abuses and the car company would lose a ton of money, if this thing gets abused. It also leads to the thief being arrested. In a computer scenario, it will not stop or prevent theft and it will not protect anyone's personal stuff. It only gives someone else the ability to mess up your machine.

Regarding the car scenario, what do you think would happen if/when the technology fell into the hands of the criminal element? You're driving along somewhere when suddenly, poof!, your car shuts down and you have to pull off the side of the road, only to get jumped by a group of thugs who take your valuables and maybe the car itself. Or, another scenario I can think of is you get a bunch of malicious punks who, from either another car on the road or a bridge overpass or a rooftop start randomly turning cars off on a busy highway, causing all kinds of accidents and pandemonium.

Doesn't matter if you can catch and bust them for doing it, the point is they'd have done it and already caused whatever damage, injury, and death that could have happened in the course of their malicious act. What if this fell into the hands of terrorists and they decided to shut down a city? Forget "weapons of mass destruction". Now you can achieve a form of terror you'd never get from WMDs because the people who you just affected are still alive to be terrorized by their new victimhood, along with "everyone else".

I know I went off on a tangent about cars, but really the same thing would be true with computers. In fact, this would be the computer environment equivalent to a WMD.

sdowney717
December 15th, 2010, 05:13 PM
The ability to turning off cars would be good for enforcement personal,
military and civilian could simply stop your car without resorting to tire spikes or shooting and likely less collateral damage.


However, what about planes and things that if the computer system shut down might kill such as hospital systems, or light rail or you name it.

sydbat
December 15th, 2010, 05:35 PM
I have seen TV adds for something like this on a car. Someone steals a car, then the police (working with the car company) uses the system to track down the thief and then shutdown the engine so that he cannot run away. No damage was done to the car, the engine lock was temporary. This system was part of the same system that the car can use to call for help if you are in an accident and unconscious.OnStar (http://www.onstar.com/web/portal/home). Although you have to pay OnStar/GM for this service.

cascade9
December 15th, 2010, 05:37 PM
MisterGaribaldi.

Just like in the show, here you are getting all hot and bothered about some obscene wrong :lolfalg: Kill switches 'Bad idea'? Maybe **real opnion censored due to extreme left-wing pinko beliefs of its obviously deranged author**.

Remember PSN? Yes, processor serial numbers! Brilliant idea, almost as brilliant as kill switches! How long would that take to be totally abused? About 15 minutes..... Still, intel pushed them, and IMO the only reason why they disaapeare from late model P3s was because the europeans were getting a bit fidigty about it. You know, privacy pressure groups calling on the european parliment for a ban on Intel P3 CPUS, that sort of thing.

*pulls on tin-foil hat* Intel would develop this feature just for its own marketing. If somebody from the US inteligence community had told them it was a good idea, that would seal the deal.

undecim
December 15th, 2010, 09:09 PM
This can only end badly.

I'm done with Intel. They're CPUs seem to have worse and worse "features"

AMD, here I come.

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December 15th, 2010, 11:45 PM
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MisterGaribaldi
December 22nd, 2010, 05:44 AM
The ability to turning off cars would be good for enforcement personal,
military and civilian could simply stop your car without resorting to tire spikes or shooting and likely less collateral damage.

Sorry, but the abuse potential (in and out of law enforcement) would be too great for me to ever tolerate. Besides, I'd far rather take my chances with the criminal element than have a nanny-state try and do it for me.

And again, you and others quoting me have all seeming missed the point: even if we assume for the sake of argument that law enforcement and government are perfect and absolutely ethical and moral, the mere fact that this technology exists means the infrastructure for exploitation is being deployed.

The white/black hat crowd (and others out there) are very, very resourceful and intelligent folks. I would *never* make the sad mistake of assuming they couldn't figure out whatever system is deployed. Besides, are you really willing to bet your life and eternal soul that nobody at Intel (or any other similarly-situated company) who knows something about this system or has access to data on it will ever, in the course of their remaining life, talk to anyone anywhere about it?

I'm not willing to make that kind of bet.